Toru Iwatani in 2010 – Copyright: NAMCO BANDAI

Articles about Pac-Man

Toru Iwatani Biography
Pac-Man Characters
Pac-Man Nomenclature Conflicts
Pac-Man Splitscreen Bug
Pac-Man Scoring Details
The latest Pac-Man Championship Edition


Pac-Man Creator Iwatani Speaks!
Author: Helen Pfeffer in 2007

Happy birthday, Mr Pac-Man!
Author: Leo Lewis in 2005

Toru Iwatani – Programmers At Work
Author: Susan Lammers in 1986

Interview with Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco
Author: Unknown, early 1980s


In the late 1990s, Twin Galaxies, which tracks video game world record scores, visited used game auctions and counted how many times the average Pac Man machine had been played. Based on those findings and the total number of machines that were manufactured, the organization said it believed the game had been played more than 10 billion times in the 20th century.

“Pac Man changed the psychological profile of the average person,” explains Twin Galaxies’ Walter Day. “Suddenly old and young, male and female, doctors, dentists, lawyers and housewives found it acceptable to be playing a video game. And Pac Man opened that door for them. Despite the fact that it was technologically advanced, it was as simple as playing a card game for them.”

“Pac-Man is the most universally known arcade game”, said Chris Lindsey, director of the National Video Game and Coin-Op Museum in St. Louis. “Everybody knows about Pac-Man. And, I’ve noticed, almost everybody can play Pac-Man pretty well. Pac-Man makes just about the best use of the joystick one can imagine. It’s so intuitive that it puts other games to shame in terms of how easy it is for a person to walk up, stick a quarter in the machine, and start doing something meaningful. At the time, Pac-Man introduced a completely unique style of game play and was also highly identifiable in terms of its music. With Pac-Man, everything was there. The video game industry needs another game that captures the public’s heart like Pac-Man, and so far, no one has been able to come up with it.”

Lindsey says, “People expect to see Pac-Man when they come into the museum, and without fail, when they see it, they want to play it; people remember spending hours and hours at Pac-Man. They like to see how good they are now when they play it. And I would say that, perhaps more than any other game, the same playing skills still apply. Perhaps it’s because of the intuitive game play. You don’t have to memorize the behavior of a wide array of enemies as you do with some other games.

You just have to remember that when the ghosts turn blue, you only have seconds, until they start seriously blinking, to go and get them. And Pac-Man is a little looser in its style of game play – more open. For instance, you can kill time in the lower left hand corner until you see an opening between the ghosts, and you can strategize a bit more : You can play with the tunnels, you can play with the position of the ghosts in relation to the energizers. Even people who haven’t played in years remember those strategies.

When you’ve got a ghost on your tail and you have to make a decision about whether you’re going to go left, or right, or straight at the next junction, which is in .03 seconds. It gets to be pretty tense, especially when those ghosts start moving really fast and the energizers aren’t lasting as long. Pac-Man can be a real heart-thumping game.”

Pac-Man Nebula in the constellation of Cassiopeia

The name ‘Pac-Man’ has been given to a cosmic nebula,

The Pac-Man Nebula, better known to Astronomers as NCG 281 in Cassiopeia, lies at a distance of about 10 thousand light years. A bright group of stars in the center illuminate the region of hydrogen gas, glowing red. Dark clouds of dusk obscure some of the glowing gas, creating the “mouth” and “eye” of the Pac Man. Star formation occurs in these dense clouds of dust. Because the cluster is in the direction of the Milky Way, innuberable stars litter the background and foreground of the image. It is visible in amateur telescopes from dark sky locations.

NGC 281 is a busy workshop of star formation. Prominent features include a small open cluster of stars, a diffuse red-glowing emission nebula, large lanes of obscuring gas and dust, and dense knots of dust and gas in which stars may still be forming. The open cluster of stars IC 1590 visible around the center has formed only in the last few million years.

The brightest member of this cluster is actually a multiple-star system shining light that helps ionize the nebula’s gas, causing the red glow visible throughout. The lanes of dust visible left of center are likely homes of future star formation. The NGC 281 system, dubbed the Pacman nebula for its overall shape, lies about 10 thousand light years distant.


Mike Matei

Hey there, I'm Mike Matei, the brains behind pacmanmuseum.com, a blog entirely dedicated to the iconic Pac-Man game. As a lifelong fan and geek of classic arcade gaming, I've poured my passion into creating a virtual museum celebrating everything Pac-Man. E-mail / Linkedin